Photo: Billy Smith II, Chronicle
On Monday, State District Judge George Powell said he will make a decision in two weeks concerning the innocence of Alfred Brown.
Brown, who was sentenced to die in 2005 for the slaying of a Houston police officer during a three-man robbery, was released from prison in 2015 after crucial evidence relevant to his case was unearthed eight years after his original conviction.
Thanks to the exhumed evidence— a phone call which indicated Brown was at his girlfriend’s apartment near the time of the murder— his conviction of capital murder was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Despite that, Brown was never officially pardoned or exonerated. Instead, his charges were simply dismissed by former Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, disqualifying Brown from compensation under Texas law for the 12 years he spent behind bars.
In 2017, Brown filed a federal lawsuit against Houston and Harris County arguing that his constitutional rights were violated and that he was wrongfully imprisoned.
To evaluate Brown’s innocence, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg appointed Houston lawyer John Raley as a special prosecutor. In March, Raley’s 179-page report was released and concluded Brown was “actually innocent” under the law, meaning no reasonable juror would convict Brown in light of the new evidence.
After hearing details about the case and arguments for Brown’s innocence on Monday, Powell said he was preparing to make a decision on April 29.
The critical piece of evidence that proved Brown’s innocence, according to Raley, was a three-way phone call that, when combined with corroborative eyewitness testimony, placed Brown at a separate location away from the two suspects he was accused of being with during and shortly after the murder.
“He physically could not have been at the crime scene,” Raley told Powell during the hearing.
In his report, Raley said proof of that phone call never made it to trial because it was not produced to the defense by the lead prosecutor of the case, former Assistant District Attorney Daniel Rizzo.
“Brown was convicted of capital murder by prosecutorial misconduct,” Raley said during the hearing. “I can’t imagine anything more horrible than executing an innocent man.”
Brown is seeking almost a million dollars in compensation under the Tim Cole Act because of his time in prison.